Monthly Archives: June 2016

Shaping the Future of Visual Communications – csuitepodcast 23 Part 2

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In Part 2 of Show 23 (from 10min 23s) of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at the World PR Forum in Toronto, I chatted to independent consultant, Aimee Lewis and Mike McDougall, President of McDougall Communications, straight after their session on ‘Shaping the Future of Visual Communications’.

During their presentation, Mike and Aimee shared 10 trends about content that the audience needed to be aware of, available on their presentation slides, and in our interview we discussed a few of them, starting with the need to plan your content for viewing on screens in the future.

To explain this Mike used the example of someone looking at shelves of VHS tapes and wondering what to do with them now!  Therefore, his recommendation is to not only prepare for the 4K visual revolution, but also 8K. Practically, this means if you are producing video content, then futureproof it and shoot it for those larger formats – and this is just in consideration of flat screen.  He quickly pointed out that this isn’t even taking into consideration 3D or immersive technologies.

When it comes to getting to grips with new technologies though, and how they may work for your brand, the concern for many communicators is in having to continually chase the next new platform.  Mike’s recommendation is therefore to look for what is showing a bit of staying power.

He explained to me that in his presentation, he showed a number of platforms that are nascent.  However, typically, 8 or 9 out of 10 of those will fail in their first year. He therefore suggests that communicators get familiar with them and that if you have a niche audience that is using them, then by all means get involved and perhaps use it to test and learn, maybe as a pilot, but not to sink a ton of resources into them.  If you then find you get some traction after a few months, then take a bet on a number of platforms and if one pays off, then you won’t worry about those that failed.

Aimee made the point that a number of the technologies that they showed are in fact free apps, or cost just a few dollars, and so, without spreading yourself too thin, you could try them out and it not be too expensive to do so.

A good example is Augmented Reality, which I personally know is easy to use having seen some of the demos that Conversis have played with when using it for translation purposes.

The example that Mike and Aimee showed was by Simpson College:

Mike gave three bits of advice to adding to Aimee’s point about trying things out if time and budget was an issue:

  • Time is what you make of it – a lot of the work he does in testing new technologies is during, what he calls, ‘couch time’ – experimenting out of work, whilst watching TV at home, for example.
  • Set yourself up with a University or someone who is looking to pilot it – make a beta site and invite people to try it with you
  • Reallocate some of your resources – you may be spending money on techniques that were relevant five years ago but maybe they aren’t today, so perhaps experiment with some of that budget

 If you are interested in getting involved in this series podcasts, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

Transparency in the age of digital government requests – csuitepodcast 23 Part 1

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In Part 1 of Show 23 of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at the World PR Forum in Toronto, I was joined by Tor Odland, Vice President of Group Communications at Telenor Group, one of the top 10 global mobile carriers.

When I spoke with Tor, he had just presented a fascinating session on ‘Transparency in the age of digital government requests’.

Tor set the scene by discussing his own personal experiences when working for Telenor in Asia, where he got involved in a situation where a government asked his company, and other mobile operators, to block access to Facebook due to political changes happening in that particular country. It was something Telenor decided to comply with but Tor explained that they did something that none of the other operators did at the time, and that was to communicate about it publically and how, as a company, they regretted the impact it might cause, particularly to the human rights of their customers.  Naturally, this resulted in disagreements between Telenor and the particular government and ultimately, the company had to take precautions to ensure staff, including Tor himself, were safe.

This story is of course a very different political situation to other issues the mobile carriers may face if, for example, they are asked for information from the network to help investigate a crime.

Tor explained that there are many ways that governments are looking at what’s happening in the mobile networks and they may often have a very legitimate need for data.  However, the question is whether they are doing it in a lawful and structured way.  For example, Telenor require a court order before they can hand out information, but Tor said that in some countries, as the laws are relatively out of sync with digital developments as an operator, Telenor have to set their own standards, which they apply globally, to do what they can do to mitigate the risk or impact to their customers.

In the spirit of transparency, Telenor regularly releases its ‘Authority requests disclosure report’, which details when Governments have asked for requests in each of the 13 territories Telenor trades in, although Tor explained that not all Governments are comfortable with. However, he agreed that it is also about getting a balance, as in the case of the shooting in San Bernardino, where Apple didn’t want to release the data from Syed Farook’s iPhone, there may be times when it’s important to allow governments access to data when investigating crimes.

Relating it back to PR, Tor believes the industry can learn from these experiences as it is transparency, particularly in a company’s value proposition, which will make it as easy as possible for consumers to understand what is going on within an organisation. 

If you are interested in getting involved in this series podcasts, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

Greenwashing – csuite podcast 22 Part 2

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In the second half of Show 22 (from 16m37s) that I recorded in Toronto at the World PR Forum, I interviewed Sustainable Communication Strategist, Angela Barter, who had earlier presented a session at the conference on the topic of Greenwashing, which Greenpeace defines on their Greenwashing campaign website as ‘the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service’.

Angela explained that many companies are moving towards more sustainable and responsible practices such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reducing their fuel consumption, recycling, conserving water and energy and deforestation, and many of those organisations are communicating those messages through their advertising and PR.  At the start of her workshop session, she showed two such examples, from Unilever

and Renault

However, Angela’s concern is that there are a lot of companies that communicate in this way, but don’t have the verifiable evidence to back up the environmental claims that they are marking, yet their consumers are, as she termed it, none the wiser.  She added that there is a lack of understanding from consumers in terms of environmental issues, which results in them being misled.

In her presentation, Angela talked through some of the ‘Seven Sins of Greenwashing’, which are defined by Tarrachoice as:

  1. Hidden Trade-off
  2. No Proof
  3. Vagueness
  4. Worshipping False Labels
  5. Irrelevance
  6. The Lesser of Two Evils
  7. Fibbing

The one’s she highlighted including ‘Irrelevant Claims’, where companies are emphasising a tiny attribute of what they do, when most of their other actions can be considered ‘ungreen’.  For example, as she explained, a product might say it’s ‘CFC Free’, which for most consumers would sound like the company making that statement is doing fantastic work, but actually CFC’s were banned years ago!

She stressed that what people say and what they do when it comes to environmental actions often differ and it’s regularly seen in PR, marketing and advertising, where companies profess to be one thing, but then, for example, you’ll walk past their office at night and all the lights are on, or on waling through the offivces of a company that has an environmental product, you’ll may notice that there is not one recycle bin in sight!

The interview did finish on a positive though, with her sharing a fantastic example of how an Florida based company has been incredibly innovative with a product design to benefit the environment.  Saltwater Brewery has developed a biodegradable edible six pack can ring, which will mean there is no longer a need for the plastic can rings that we see being disgarded and ending up in the sea, often resulting in marine life ingesting them or getting caught in them.  It’s an incredible invention and I urge you to watch the (cheesy vox pops aside) brilliant video.

If you are interested in getting involved in this series podcasts, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.

PR’s Got Talent – csuite podcast 22 Part 1

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the World PR Forum in Toronto.

The event was superbly organised by the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and had the theme of ‘Communication Across Cultures’.

I was there to record a series of interviews for the conference as part of the csuitepodcast, and first up, fresh after their presentation on The Future of PR were Arun Sudhaman, President and Editor-in-Chief of The Holmes Report and Fred Cook, CEO of GOLIN.  I also got Rob Brown, current CIPR President and Managing Partner of Rule 5 to join us for the chat.

We talked through some of the highlights within the latest Global Communications Report, which, as Arun explained, explores how the PR industry is changing on both the agency and in-house side, but one of the key points raised was how the industry has a need for people with a broad range of experiences and how it needs to recruit those from different backgrounds.

Fred has a concern that PR agencies tend to recruit from other PR Agencies and In-house roles are replaced by people from other in-house roles.  Off the back of this, Arun recommended that people read Fred’s book ‘Improvise: Unconventional career advice from an unlikely CEO’ about his own life experiences before settling at Golin as a good example of why the industry needs people who have different experiences and skills to simply working in PR.  Fred’s view is that we need different skill sets and different types of people in the industry, i.e. great thinkers, very creative, very bold and willing to take risks, and so he is looking for people with more courage in their approach to their work.

Rob added to this by saying how PR is now in competition with other industries, for example, with lawyers when it comes to Crisis Communications or in other areas it could be that PR is in competition with Video Production companies.

Arun’s view on this area is that the PR industry has to get a lot better at selling itself as an attractive destination for people that really do have a lot of options in terms of where they can go.

On the topic of recruiting new talent, Fred talked about Golin’s ‘Unternship’ programme, which is proving a real success for them. Below is the video of Golin’s first Untern, Akinbola Richardson, which Fred showed in the presentation – it’s quite incredible.

A Recap of Akin’s Unternship Adventure from Golin on Vimeo.

Golin created the concept off the back of Fred’s personal background and how he built his own career, which, as he says himself, was quite unauthodox.   After reading his book, the General Manager of their Dallas office said she would never have hired him in a million years, and they therefore realised it was a problem that they are always looking to hire people who fit the same mould.  The unternship was their answer, and runs as a competition to find different kinds of people, and the winner gets to travel at Golin’s expense for three months all around the world, doing things they’ve never done before.  Fred explained that they’ve just finished their second unternship in the US, have just chosen their first in London and are now in the process of choosing one in China.  He added that they have had hundreds of entries and in fact, ended up hiring many of the applicants as interns too.  He believes it has done wonders for Golin’s employer brand, creating a sense about the company that they are different from everyone else.

I’ve told my neice and my daughter to keep an eye out for future Golin Unternships!

If you are interested in getting involved in this series podcasts, whether as a guest or as a sponsor, please do get in touch using the contact form on the show website.

You can also keep the conversation going on twitter around these podcasts using #csuitepodcast.